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Biden To End COVID Public Health Emergencies On May 11; Biden Touts Infrastructure Investments In New York; Two New Developments In Trump Cases In NY & DC. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 31, 2023 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: It is true. The politics here are pretty clear. Some Democrats did not want to take a vote. If the president, you know, to say no, we need to keep it going. Here's Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeting, too late, Republicans already announced we're declaring COVID is over. The GOP is leading on this issue. Biden is trying to take the credit. There is no question. Again, you could fact check that and maybe massage it a little bit. But Democrats in touch with the White House saying, Mr. President, maybe we don't want to take this vote.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, they forced their hands. I mean, Democrats did not like the idea of having to vote against repealing these public health emergencies or explain why without the White House coming forth and saying, this is going to happen eventually pretty soon. It's not totally clear why Republicans are so keen to end them because there aren't any mandates that come with these things.

There are a lot of policies that do come with it, including funding for vaccines and testing. But anyway, it's clearly a symbolic message, as are the other moves that they're planning this week to lift the vaccine mandate on health care workers and also to change telework rules. This is getting at, this is Republicans trying to get at the deep discontent that still exists in this country about schools closing down and the federal response to the pandemic that they argue was a total overreach.

But there are many Republicans also who are vaccine deniers. We're going to hear a lot of conspiracy theories, I'm guessing, on the floor today. And so they also need to get their message straight. So that's -- it's been a challenge for them to do that as well. But they're clearly again to try to push this.

KING: Right. It will be fascinating to listen to that floor debate, but what's at stake from a policy standpoint? How will this affect you if you don't care to follow the politics of it all that much? Not all testing and treatments will be free anymore. Most people can still get vaccinated, most, at no cost. Most people hospitals whose financial support from the government.

So there are some public health professionals who are a little queasy about this saying, yes, we're in way better shape than the last two COVID winters, but is it a little too early?

TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Well, May is not right now, also, and the White House is saying that the president intends to have this end in May. If conditions change, they could change their intentions as well. But certainly the politics were that the President needed to get out. The administration needed to get out and say, no, we really do see an end in sight. I mean, the President months ago said the pandemic is over, and by that he meant the acute phase of the pandemic was over.

But a lot of policies, as you say, rest on these declared emergencies. I mean, to be clear, there are declared federal emergencies about all kinds of things that the American public has no idea exist, and they just get renewed. And, you know, we get a notice sent that comes from the President and goes up to Congress. You get this notice and you're like, I didn't even know were in that emergency.

KING: It is -- I was going to say interesting. I don't know the right word for it. It's not healthy in the country that COVID has been so caught up in politics that sometimes common sense get shoved aside. Sometimes just basic facts of numbers get cast aside. That's one of the points our CNN contributor Dr. Jonathan Reiner made in a tweet on Monday. He says, I know many people desperately want to declare COVID pandemic over and the infection officially an endemic like influenza. The problem is, two times as many people are still dying every day from COVID as die daily from influenza. So whether you call it an emergency or not, one of the problems with COVID politics is we can't agree on simple basic facts.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly. And the President and the White House had this push during the fall trying to get more people to get their shots, to get updated booster shots, and that really fizzled out. And it seems like everyone is moving on, not only with the White House and the President sort of catching up to where the Republicans in the House are, but also on the Republican presidential side.

You have this fight going on between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis about, you know, COVID and who was more harsh and who was following the science. And something tells me that even after this public health emergency ends, we're still going to have COVID as part of our politics and our presidential politics both this year and 2024.

KING: Everybody stand by.


Coming up for us next, never before seen video the former President Donald Trump in a deposition. Does he answer questions? We'll be right back.


KING: Now, a never before seen look at a remarkable legal event. The former President of the United States under oath, being questioned by attorneys from the New York Attorney General's office invoking the Fifth Amendment over and over and over. "CBS News" was first to obtain this video. Let's bring it to you now with CNN's Kara Scannell joins us. Kara, what do we learn?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. As you said, this was a video deposition that Trump gave in August as part of the New York Attorney General's investigation. And one of the things that Trump after he kind of goes through the initial meetings, he starts reading this lengthy statement. And he had once said, if you're innocent, why would you take the Fifth? Well, let's listen to his explanation of why he did now.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anyone in my position not taking the Fifth Amendment would be a fool, an absolute fool. One statement or answer that is ever so slightly off, just ever so slightly by accident, by mistake, such as it was a sunny, beautiful day when actually it was slightly overcast, would be met by law enforcement. Under the advice of my counsel, and for all of the above reasons, I respectfully declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.


SCANNELL: And so Trump then went on to answer same answer to more than 400 questions that he was posed over the course of several hours during that interview. As, you know, the New York Attorney General's office did sue former President Donald Trump, his eldest children, and the company, saying that they engaged in a decade long fraud. She is seeking $250 million. Now, Trump has denied any wrongdoing.


But, you know, at the outset of this video, you can see there, Trump is in the tight shot. But you can hear the New York Attorney General Letitia James in the room addressing him, explaining to him how this deposition will take place. And he says that he understands and he notes that, says he did very little to prepare and that he didn't do anything wrong. But then he goes on to quote as part of his statement some of the quotes that Letitia James had made on the campaign trail, really having these two people, these two adversaries in the room together, where he is quoting back to her what she has said, truly a very unique moment. John?

KING: Kara Scannell, thank you for bringing us that. Yes, truly unique moment. Let's bring the conversation to the room. I'm told, though, the President of the United States now speaking at an infrastructure project, major infrastructure project in New York. Let's listen.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To people's lives and the strength of the economy of New York and New Jersey and quite frankly, all across the country. And that's Chuck Schumer. He's relentless. He never gives up. No one has done more to make today a reality as truly this is Chuck Schumer day, pal. You got it done. Chuck, you've done a hell of a job. And a big thanks to the rest of the delegation as well. Senator Gillibrand, who's here the true champion of this state and who always puts New York first. And she makes sure everybody in the military is straightened up too, but that's a different story.

Mayor Adams, thank you for, where's Mayor Adams? There you are, Mayor Adams. Good to see you, pal. Thank you for the passport into the city. And Governor Hochul, thank you as well. We got a chance to speak earlier. And Governor Murphy, he's been a great -- you've been a great friend a long time. Your leadership has been vital to this project. And the New Jersey congressional delegation fought like hell to push forward what all this entails.

And I want to thank everybody here. I want to thank Bob Menendez. Where are you Bob? There you are. Good to see you, Bob. And Cory Booker, two great senators from New Jersey. And I also want, you know, we try to shut down while others try to shut this down, we made clear -- I made clear, this is a national priority.

And I told you that we'd get this done and we did it together. I want to thank Representative Gottheimer as well, and the two members of New Jersey Congress -- congressional delegation. Rob Menendez, who's smarter than his dad, and Don Goldman, I know because my son was smarter than I was. So, look, for being here and we got a lot of work to do, and we got a lot of work to get together. You're going to pay for that when you get home, right?

But look, and I want to thank everyone from Amtrak, everyone from Amtrak, you guys, and MTA is up there too, actually, that -- for this Gateway Development Commission is really important. And I thank you for your partnership. Folks, just outside this space, the first piece of the new Hudson Tunnel is being built. It's one of the biggest parts of the gateway program.

Now, let me say this at the outset, this is just the beginning, just the beginning of finally constructing a 21st century rail system that's long, long overdue in this country. This project is critical to transforming the northeast corridor, increasing speed, capacity, reliability, and safety. In addition to getting folks out of cars and on the trains, we're going to help the environment as well because you're going to -- all the studies show, and I've been harping on this since the mid-70s, that every study shows you can get from point A to point B on rail as fast or faster than you can on automobile. You don't take the car, you get in the train.

And that's how important this project disrupted 200,000 passengers who take Amtrak or New Jersey transit under the Hudson River every single day. And, you know, it matters a lot to northeast carter from here to Boston, Boston to Washington, all the way down. For years, people talked about fixing this tunnel, but thanks to leadership of Chuck and the bipartisan infrastructure law, we're finally getting this done.

This law is the most significant investment in rail, the most significant investment in rail since we created Amtrak over 50 years ago. And billions, billions are going to projects along the northeast carter, including replacing the existing Hudson Tunnel. That's why it's so important.

Two thousands two hundred trains, 2,200 trains run along the northeast carter every single day. It's the busiest carter in the United States of America, and one of the busiest in the world. And the problem, a problem anywhere along the line, means delays up and down the east coast for folks trying to get to work, businesses trying to ship goods, travelers trying to get to see their families.

And by the way, as a U.S. senator, I commuted for 36 years every single solitary day the Senate was in session. I traveled over a million, 100,000 miles on Amtrak, and I can tell you all the delays were. And they weren't all in Wilmington, Delaware. So I know to be a fact if this line shuts down for just one day, it will cost the American economy $100 million a day in cost.


The current Hudson River Rail Tunnel can be a major choke point, a critical link to New York Penn Station, the busiest train station in all of America. This tunnel opened for business in 1910, 113 years ago, and the structure is literally deteriorating The roof is leaking, the floor is sinking, plus, it was badly damaged by super storm Sandy. I was the vice president. I came and walked through this tunnel. You ought to see it.

Today, over 10 years later, there's still remnants of seawater in the tunnel, eating away at the concrete, steel and the electrical components within the tunnel. In 2020, there are over 12,000 minutes of delay in just one year, 12,000 minutes of delay. The United States of America, what -- for God's sake, what are we doing? This is the United States of America. We know better. We're so much brighter than that. And now we're going to prove it. We're going to rebuild the existing tunnel, but we can't do that until we build a brand new entirely --

KING: We're listening to the President of the United States. He is that the scene, near the scene of the construction of the new Hudson River Tunnel. The President making the case, this is part of the progress that will come because of the bipartisan infrastructure law passed on his watch, it's celebrating an achievement of the past as the President prepares to cite these projects as he runs, A, against the Republicans in the House and then prepares for reelection. We'll be right back.



KING: A few moments ago, we played a sound bite of Donald Trump during a deposition in New York. Well, the former president also facing new and important scrutiny in two separate ongoing grand jury investigations. One is here in Washington, where two people who found classified documents at Trump's Florida storage facility testified under oath yesterday before a federal grand jury.

The other grand jury is in Manhattan. "The New York Times" reporting a big escalation there with prosecutors now presenting evidence about hush money paid to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels. She, you might recall, threatened to go public with an alleged affair with Trump just weeks before Election Day back in 2016. And CNN reports that David Pecker, who's the ex-publisher of the National Enquirer, is expected to meet with those prosecutors this week. Our legal affairs analyst Carrie Cordero joins our panel. For people at home, it's investigation after investigation after investigation. You can get lost in the details that you have these two grand juries where the pace at least seems to be accelerating, tells you what?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Really big difference between these cases. So on the D.C. case, this is a federal investigation related to the classified documents, and all of those events happened relatively recently. Where I'm more skeptical is with respect to the New York investigation, which is the local investigation where the facts at issue were many, many years ago. This is going back to the 2016 election.

And so any witnesses that they bring in, you have to start thinking about, are their recollections old and faulty with respect to any documents that they might subpoena in that New York case, phone records, for example, phone companies are only required to keep that information sometimes five years, six years, seven years. So they're really coming at the end of whether some of that evidence that might be available in that New York case is even available anymore. So I just think it's a really long time later from the facts that are alleged to be pursuing that New York case.

KING: And so you have all of these investigations, and now you have this deposition coming out of a previous conversation with the New York attorney general and hers in a case against the Trump Organization, just as Donald Trump starts to ramp up his travel. He's the only declared Republican candidate in 2024 so far. He was in New Hampshire and in South Carolina. Here's another snippet from the deposition. Again, this is Donald Trump at the table, the New York attorney general trying to prove fraud by the Trump Organization, the former president.


TRUMP: This is the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country. There has never been another president or perhaps even another politician who has been persecuted, harassed, and in every other way unfairly treated like President Donald J. Trump.


KING: Witch hunt is a line we have heard every time he is investigated. And if you're a Trump critic at home, you're rolling your eyes. But a lot of Trump supporters are actually motivated by that. I guess my question is, as we go through this again.


KING: Is the Trump base willing to say, I agree with him? Or are they going to say, what, whether I agree or disagree with him, I need to move on?

OLORUNNIPA: A certain segment of the base is going to stick with him and is going to be buoyed by the fact that he continues to be under investigation. The fact that he has declared himself a candidate has not stopped these investigation. That's going to strengthen some of his support. But there are a number of Trump skeptical supporters who are starting to look at other Republicans saying, these Republicans support these same policies, and they're not as, you know, controversial. They're not under indictment or potential indictment or investigation. These are the kinds of Republicans that we like.

KING: That's the question. Is there a Trump exhaustion out there, or does it I guess it depends how many other Republicans run, help him.


DAVIS: I mean, I think there's some evidence that there's some Trump exhaustion out there. If you look at the results of the midterms, and if you just, you know, listen to people who have talked with voters and if you talk to people inside the party, the question has always been is there somebody out there who can capitalize on that? Is there an alternative who can get through a primary with Trump?

And I think we're starting to see possibilities here. Obviously, you mentioned DeSantis earlier. There might be, but that's what it's going to take -- it's -- you have to have Trump exhaustion and somebody who's able to capitalize on that. And that's the piece we haven't yet seen.

KING: Right. And we're mixing the substance with the politics. Maybe we'll get some finality in the substance of some of these investigations and before we get to the Trump exhaustion question.

Thanks for your time today in INSIDE POLITICS. Busy breaking news day, Kasie Hunt picks up our coverage after this.